Friday, June 14, 2013

Degradation and shame

I'm feeling cranky so I'm getting on my soapbox. No pretty pictures, sorry. There are no pretty pictures to go with this post.

Is it a false gender war if politicians are acting like a complete bunch of horses-arses when it comes to 'women's issues'? Or if there's a culture of dissecting, abusing and shaming women not just in our national institutions but in the public more generally? Julia Gillard was recently accused of starting a false gender war, after suggesting that abortion law would become a 'political plaything of men' if Tony Abbott became Prime Minister... you know Tony Abbott, the guy who once said that abortion was an easy way out?

The next day Julia Gillard's Big Red Box was on the menu at a Liberal National Party fundraiser. And then the restaurateur apologed to Mal Brough, whose affair it was, rather than Julia Gillard. Eden Riley, over at Edenland, was fairly succinct about the whole thing with this post.

Then a radio jock asked the PM if her partner, Tim, is gay. You have the Prime Minister of Australia in your studio and this is where you decide to go? Like the PM said during the questioning: 'absurd'.

Now around 100 men in the army, some of them very high-ranking have been caught sharing photos and explicit stories about women they've slept with as well as digitally altering women's photos to degrade them. Lt-General David Morrison, the current head of the Australian Army, appeared on Radio National this morning, discussing these men's disrepect of  their women colleagues as well as women public servants and women of the general public (Oh, how I wish Lt-Gen Morrison was the model for a modern army culture).

Then there's the sandstone university colleges (breeding grounds for Liberal politicians I might add - Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, I'm looking at you) where their richest and most privileged and most well connected start pro-rape, slut-shaming and all manner of ill-conceived Facebook pages and almost kill a woman (and get away pretty lightly, I might add), not to mention a long history of pro-rape back-slapping and "mateship".

Okay, this isn't just an Australian thing. Men in power the world over seem to be doing a bang-up job of being completely clueless about women and women's issues. An American (Republican, surprise!) congressman, for example, in voting against changes to abortion law stated that that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is low (when it's approximately 5%). Let's not even go back to the other Republican congressman/senators who in previous years have discussed 'legitimate rape' and a woman's body being able to shut down during rape to prevent pregnancy.

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I just...

I can't...

How could these people be so stupid?

Sitting alongside all of this is that fact that 90% of the men I know personally are nothing like these examples of men and twisted culture. They are beautifully sensible, respectful, and thoughtful individuals who have never needed degradation to act as evidence of their manhood. There are even some male politicians who fit under this category - even a Liberal one (or two or three maybe, but I can only think of one off the top of my head). So I'm feeling persnickety and more than a little confused.

Is all of this a false gender war? Or is it a real one? Is this just politics making idiots of politicians? Or is it bigger and more pervasive than just them?

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